Well, Fastlane happened, and wonder of wonders, the status quo has remained the same. Roman Reigns is set to face Triple H in the main event of Wrestlemania. Every champion retained. No face or heel turns.
Not to say that there weren’t some amazing things that happened at Fastlane. The matches were solid, the talent all delivered. Unfortunately, it’s the creative team that dropped the ball.
However, tonight’s RAW almost made up for it, delivering solid entertainment, fun matches, and one absolutely wild surprise that has shaken fans to the core.
The McMahon Legacy
You guys. YOU GUYS.
Vince emerged to start off the show, and presented, to no one’s surprise, the Vincent J. McMahon Legacy of Excellence Award to Stephanie. However, soon enough, Shane freaking McMahon emerged to an absolutely thunderous ovation, and demanded control of Monday Night RAW, citing the downhill spiral the WWE has been going down. Sending Stephanie off, Vince agreed, on the condition that Shane win one match, one night.
At this point, I tweeted this:
And then . . .
Vince announced the match would be against, holy hell, the Undertaker, and would be a Hell in a Cell match.
I am in awe. Shane’s re-emergence was an absolutely delightful surprise, and the prospect of him managing RAW is extremely exciting, let me say. A non-heel authority figure is exactly what the WWE desperately needs, and the on-screen acknowledgment of the company’s dismal performance in ratings was a welcome one.
Neville & the Lucha Dragons vs. The New Day
The Lucha Dragons dominated Xavier Woods early on, and Neville impressed as well, working Woods’ armlike crazy before Kingston and Big E both tagged in, regaining the champions’ momentum, all of them tagging in and beating down Neville with the Unicorn Stampede.
The New Day remained dominant for several minutes on poor Neville, who couldn’t get to the Lucha Dragons in time for the hot tag for a while before Neville finally tagged Sin Cara in to the match. The Luchador delivered, with both Kalisto and Big E interfering. Woods and Neville got into it as well, and soon, everyone was brawling.
But it was Kofi Kingston who would pick up the win after some mask shenanigans, and the heels left the ring victorious.
No Holds Barred
Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar came out to acknowledge the online-captured beating Brock Lesnar rained down on Dean Ambrose before the show’s start. Heyman recapped Lesnar’s near-submission of Roman Reigns, and called out Ambrose for breaking that up with his chair shots. Heyman called Lesnar’s beating plain and simple revenge.
Heyman raged about Ambrose before proclaiming that his client needs a new client for Wrestlemania, and told everyone who could hear that his client would leave a trail of destruction everywhere he went.
Just then, an ambulance burst into the arena, driven by none other than everyone’s favorite Lunatic Fringe: Dean Ambrose, neck brace and all. Dean staggered out of the ambulance and onto the entrance ramp and to ringside, where Lesnar looked down on him before stepping over his face to leave him behind.
But Dean wasn’t done, telling Lesnar that he was indestructible, and he would find out at Wrestlemania in a street fight. Lesnar’s response? An F-5. And a yes from Paul Heyman.
The Usos vs.The Ascension
As the Usos entered for their match against the Ascension, the Dudleys came out, slamming the Usos and bringing Rikishi into the mix, allowing the Ascension to take an early lead in the match.
But the Usos wouldn’t be down for long, regaining control soon enough and getting the pinfall as the Dudley Boyz looked on.
This rivalry seems to be picking up some steam, which should provide both teams with a direction as we approach Wrestlemania.
Y2AJ vs. The Social Outcasts
Jericho emerged, mic in hand, and proceeded to talk about AJ Styles, putting him over utterly and completely, acknowledging his loss and calling Styles out to the ring. Styles came out to a phenomenal ovation from the crowd, and Jericho congratulated him, saying he had what it takes to go right to the top.
Then, the Social Outcasts came out, mocking all the good vibes in the ring, pointing out that AJ made Jericho tap out and that Jericho said a lot of crap about Styles. Mocking the newfound peace between the two, they demanded that the two former opponents get out of “their” ring.
Jericho cut them off, and a match was born, as was a brand new team.
Styles started off dominantly before the numbers game turned the tide, however a tagged in Jericho brought some momentum back to their side. Jericho went for the Walls of Jericho and Styles took out the rest of the Outcasts as they tried to interfere, and just like that, Y2AJ captured the win.
As enjoyable as this teamup is to watch, I hope these two talented performers do not get stuck in a tag team together. If the tag division was deeper, stronger, then I’d be all for it, but as it stands, Styles is a singles star, hands down.
Backstage, Stephanie announced to Reigns that he would be fighting Sheamus (and likely the rest of the League of Nations). And Goldust approached R-Truth with an apology cake. Truth, however, wanted no part in a tag team with Goldust, walking away after shoving the cake in Goldust’s face.
The Wyatt Family vs. Ryback, Kane & Big Show
Funny note: the Wyatts all put their masks on Byron Saxton at the start of the match. I enjoyed it immensely.
The match started off to a chorus of “BORING” chants, and honestly, I don’t completely disagree. These teams have no real chemistry.
Even Ryback got bored, simply walking away from the match, allowing Bray Wyatt to get the win after pinning a distracted Kane. Backstage, Ryback declared he was done being in tag teams.
Sasha Banks vs. Naomi
In an impressively athletic rematch, Naomi took the early lead, laying a brutal beating on Sasha with the help of Tamina. But she couldn’t keep the Boss down for long, fighting back with fierce physicality despite additional distractions from Tamina.
However, Lynch arrived to even the odds, allowing Sasha to lock in the Banks Statement on Naomi. The two Divas shook hands, and then Charlotte herself emerged in Bella-like gear, and informed them that there would be a number one contender’s match for the “honor” of facing her at Wrestlemania.
Smug at the chaos she knows will ensue, Charlotte backed away.
I, for one, am still holding out hope for a Triple Threat match.
Roman Reigns vs. Sheamus
Ah, yes, the feud nobody wanted to see ever again. Reigns fought as valiantly as he always does, working through interference after interference. However, soon enough, the officiall threw them out and the match evened out.
With the odds less stacked against him, Reigns rallied back, nearly scoring a win by countout, but then the Game himself emerged, dressed for battle.The two brawled at ringside, Triple H dishing out a rough punishment on the contender to his throne, throwing him into the bell and announce table, bloodying up the Samoan before a group of officials pulled him aside.
Even then, he wasn’t done, hitting a Pedigree on steel steps and holding up his title to close the show to thunderous applause.
Yeah, great booking of faces and heels, Creative!
Honestly, I pity Roman Reigns. The man is a decent wrestler and seems like a good guy, but he is so horrendously that in what is supposed to be his triumphant rise to the top has become a glaring showcase of everything wrong with the WWE today. Booked right, the man could very well be the face of the WWE, but the WWE jumped the gun, pushing him ahead of other, more prepared and talented wrestlers like, yes, Ambrose.
The WWE has got to start listening to their fanbase. Sure, push Roman Reigns, but do it right. This current formula is not working.
Maybe Shane could fix this, eh?